For a long time Rwanda was a very dangerous place. A long, cruel civil war burned the nation during the early 1990s and had consequences in the next 20 years as well. It has come back to a quiet period in recent times and is slowly opening to international tourism. The territory is beautiful and deserves attention and exploration. Today it is easy to rent a car and drive on your own as a tourist, but you must still pay attention to places and people, every now and then.
Land of mountains, extinct volcanoes, forests and gorillas, Rwanda is a wet territory with many rivers and lakes: here, both river Nile and river Congo start on one side and on the other of the Virunga Ranges. As for the towns, the capital city Kigali and Butare and Kibuye – this one a tourist place on Lake Kivu – are the places of main interest. A large part of the national territory is devoted to two great National Parks: Akagera and Virunga. Worth the try, for a safari adventure on your own!
Is it safe to rent a car in Rwanda?
Compared to many other African nations, Rwanda has very good road conditions. After the war, the Country has started a new moder restyling and streets and roads were the first things to be restored. So you will find good, large, asphalted roads and streets both in the cities and in inner towns. Generally, also secondary country roads are paved, but they can turn into muddy tracks after the rain season, every year! The advice is still to look for large, high cars like 4×4 Jeeps, SUV or land rovers. Since a big part of the Country is mountain territory, such vehicles can be very useful in every situation.
Documents required to rent a car in Rwanda
In Rwanda you must be 25 to drive a rented car. If you are younger than that age you can still drive, but you must pay an extra fee to the agency and have a special permission. Besides that, what you need to rent a car in this Country is:
- Pre paid booking voucher – booking in advance is always the best choice
- National or International Driver’s Licence – the second of which is highly recommended.
- Identity card and valid passport
- International valid credit card
Money deposit may be asked any time. Car rentals often refuse to give cars to drivers underage (younger than 25): in this case you better do not insist. There are many questions about car rentals in Rwanda which may have an answer on local web sites.
In Rwanda the steering wheel is on the left side of the car, just like in Europe, so when you drive keep right. You might find cars with the wheel on the right side but you shall still keep right on the road!
You can find car rentals almost everywhere, especially in towns and cities. Kigali has the largest number of car rental agencies, which makes it very easy to find one, over there.
Do not drive at night, because not all streets have public light, not even in large towns. Be well informed about dangerous areas and regions, and do not drive along the border line with Burundi, where violent attacks against tourists happen all the time.